Heavyweight great Lennox Lewis today celebrates his 53rd birthday. A true champion, in fact that last undisputed heavyweight king, Lewis really did win everything there was worth winning during his amateur and pro career. Born in London in 1965 and relocating to Canada at the age of 12, Lewis achieved the following:
He boxed in two Olympics, 1984 in Los Angeles and 1988 in Seoul, capturing gold in his second Olympic adventure.
Lewis, upon turning pro with Frank Maloney (now Kellie Maloney) soon captured the Commonwealth, the British and the European titles.
World titles soon followed, even if Lewis’ first world title, the WBC crown, was one had had to pick up out of the dustbin former amateur victim Riddick Bowe had unceremoniously tossed it into. Universal acceptance was a long time coming, but finally, in 1999, after an infamous draw in their first fight, Lewis defeated fellow great Evander Holyfield to become undisputed king.
Lewis, who had suffered an upset loss to Oliver McCall in 1994, one he subsequently avenged (in a strange episode in heavyweight history, with McCall suffering a nervous breakdown in the middle of the fight) made a number of retentions after the points victory over Holyfield – beating good fighters such as David Tua and the hugely hyped Michael Grant. A second defeat came in 2001 when Hasim Rahman KO’d an ill prepared defending champ in South Africa, but once again Lennox avenged his loss.
Lewis, who cemented his legacy with stoppage wins over Mike Tyson and, in his final ring appearance, Vitali Klitschko, holds the distinction of beating every single man he faced as a pro. Retiring, his health intact and his money likewise, in 2003, Lewis walked away, on his own terms, with a fine 41-2-1(32) record.
Among the good/great fighters Lewis defeated are:
Gary Mason, Razor Ruddock, Tony Tucker, Frank Bruno, Tommy Morrison, Ray Mercer, Andrew Golota, Shannon Briggs, Holyfield, Tua, Rahman, Tyson and Klitschko.
Whichever way you look at it, that’s some resume. The only thing missing is that pro rematch with Bowe. And, maybe, in the opinion of the harsher critics who fail to understand how smart Lewis was in retiring when Father Time was creeping steadily in, a return with Vitali. But Lewis was a born winner and he holds that distinction of having beaten ever single man he ever fought. Aside from Rocky Marciano and Gene Tunney, which other former heavyweight king could say that?